It’s probably one of the greatest scenes and films written for a heroine on the Indian screen. Barely 28 years of age or thereabouts #Meenakumari plumbed the dark deep depths of chhoti bahu in #saahibbibiaurghulam. It was an incredible performance. She would hear the dialogue recorded for her and jot down notes and talk about being constantly troubled by “chhoti bahu.” As it is, it was a stressful shoot. The jury is still out about whether #Gurudutt or #AbrarAlvi directed the film. Though the dutt touches in the song sequences are unmistakeable.
At barely 20 years of age, she married the two decades older, illustrious filmmaker Kamaal Amrohi who later made #daera and #pakeezah for her. But as Meenaji’s stature grew showbiz corridors were rife with stories of jealosy, marital abuse, harassment and addiction to the bottle did the rounds.
Seldom has Hindi cinema seen a heroine with such a wonderful command of urdu and histrionics. The thespian’s personality was steeped in melancholy and poetry. Her list of admirers grew as did the standout performances. #Parineeti, #BahuBegum, #kaajal, #dilekmandir, #Baijubawra, #kohinoor, #MainChupRahoongi, #Aarti, #Azaad , #dilapnaaurpreetparai were some of her more notable work.
Ironically on the sets of a film called #pinjrekepanchhi, she decided to break away from her husband. Their film together #pakeezah got stuck but after years of no shooting there was a rapprochement if only professionally.
Her personal angst coupled with her drinking and Ill health spiralled towards a catastrophe. It is whispered that when married she didn’t have any money on her and she was paid a stipend as the financials were reportedly controlled by her husband. Meena Kumari passed away after a long battle with liver cirrhosis. She was barely 40. A few weeks later her last film Pakeezah was declared a super hit.
She was a consummate actor. Her artistry was incomparable. She could show you the depths of her soul.There was craft and there was craftsmanship.
Sad that those days actors didn’t have an iota of self preservation. Maybe that’s why their performances depth and purity. She is probably Indian Cinema’s greatest female actor ever.